The less we say about that game the better. Arsenal put on their worst performance under Arteta. The team was fatigued, the energy was pedestrian, and we were god awful in the final third.
To make matters worse, we conceded a goal early in the second half from a set-piece. Just standard Arsenal, a total mess.
We absolutely controlled possession, but somehow, Olympiacos still looked like they were dictating the terms of the game. In the final third, we were a real mess. Bad decisions, heavy touches, and a real lack of a final ball. I didn’t ever feel like we knew how to win that game.
When the game rolled into extra time, you started to fear the deep block was going to win out. However, Arteta had a trump card, and it was Gabriel for the second 15 of extra time. He made the difference immediately. Olympiacos struggled with fitness and the live wire Brazilian made it difficult with his drive and energy.
The sub paid off. Mesut Ozil found Gabriel with a good cross from the right, his flicked header in the box sat up for Auba who scissor-kicked home. What an outrageous goal. We thought we had a winner.
We did not.
Leno gave away a stupid corner. We cleared at the front post, they picked up the ball, slipped a teasing high ball into the box, Luiz let it go to the back post, Sokratis was beaten to the ball and Leno was late off his line. They equalized.
It wasn’t over for chances though, 2 minutes into the added-on time and Auba was found in the box from 6 yards and somehow he fired wide. Absolutely horrendous.
Arsenal drop from the Europa League. Embarrassing, upsetting, but absolutely deserved. We didn’t show up, we lacked quality in all areas of the pitch, and we didn’t know how to make possession count. These days are hard to stomach, but they were always going to happen as we build to a brighter future. The key thing is that we learn from our mistakes.
Now it’s all about the league. Let’s hope the team has it in them to brush this off and pursue the Champions League the proper way, but winning the 5th place trophy.
I recorded a bonus podcast with Matt last night, we don’t talk about Europa and we do a nice section on Ian Wright.